Slumdog chases off the competition at the BAFTAs

Martin rewrites the BAFTAs a little in a year with some very flawed entries...

BAFTAs in hand...the winners.

Jubilation for director Danny Boyle at yesterday’s BAFTA awards ceremony , as his rags-to-riches tale Slumdog Millionaire wins in seven categories including best film. Here’s the main list of winners:

BEST FILMSLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – Producer Christian Colson.

Nominees:THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON – Producers Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán ChaffinFROST/NIXON – Producers Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Brian Grazer, Ron HowardMILK – Producers Dan Jinks and Bruce CohenTHE READER – Producers Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Donna Gigliotti and Redmond Morris

Commentary:An interesting selection of nominees – there isn’t a film among them that doesn’t have some serious flaws. Benjamin Button for failing to make anything much of its central premise, Slumdog Millionaire for credibility issues, Frost/Nixon for historical inaccuracy, The Reader for an over-elliptical approach to a very difficult subject-matter and Milk for a linear and movie-of-the-week approach that doesn’t match the stellar performance of its lead, Sean Penn. Of these, Button and The Reader moved me most, and with a gun to my head I would have to say The Reader pips it for emotional impact, despite a cowardly approach to issues that are central to its theme.

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OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILMMAN ON WIRE – Producers Simon Chinn and James Marsh

Nominees:HUNGER – Producers Laura Hastings-Smith, Robin Gutch, Steve McQueen and Enda WalshIN BRUGES – Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonaghMAMMA MIA! – Judy Craymer, Gary Goetzman, Phyllida Lloyd and Catherine JohnsonSLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy

Commentary:Argghhhh. How can you choose between In Bruges and Man On Wire? It’s like trying to choose between apples and iPods.

THE CARL FOREMAN AWARDfor Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer for their First Feature FilmSTEVE McQUEEN (Director/Writer) – Hunger

Nominees:SIMON CHINN (Producer) – Man On WireJUDY CRAYMER (Producer) – Mamma Mia!GARTH JENNINGS (Writer) – Son of RambowSOLON PAPADOPOULOS, ROY BOULTER (Producers) – Of Time And The City

Commentary: I haven’t seen Of Time And The City or Son Of Rambow yet, so can’t comment much here.

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DIRECTORSLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – Danny Boyle

Nominees:CHANGELING – Clint EastwoodTHE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON – David FincherFROST/NIXON – Ron HowardTHE READER – Stephen Daldry

Commentary: In terms of providing a cohesive cinematic experience, Benjamin Button is far ahead of Slumdog Millionaire. The atmosphere, mood. performances and earnestness that Fincher put into Button shames Millionaire‘s over-cocky attitude to its subject-matter.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAYIN BRUGES – Martin McDonagh

Nominees:BURN AFTER READING – Joel Coen, Ethan CoenCHANGELING – Joe Michael StraczynskiI’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG – Philippe ClaudelMILK – Dustin Lance Black

Commentary: No argument here. In Bruges was the year’s unexpected pleasant surprise – witty, well-paced and thrilling; even the over-the-top end sequences fit well into its sense of the absurd. Burn After Reading was a bit of fun, but very much a pot-boiler for the Coen Brothers, and really its ousting several other stronger contenders for a nomination.

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ADAPTED SCREENPLAYSLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – Simon Beaufoy

Nominees:THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON – Eric RothFROST/NIXON – Peter MorganTHE READER – David HareREVOLUTIONARY ROAD – Justin Haythe

Commentary: Again, for what this award represents, and in respect of the brevity of the source material, Benjamin Button was the front-runner, in my opinion.

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGEI’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG – Yves Marmion, Philippe Claudel

Nominees:THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX – Bernd Eichinger, Uli EdelGOMORRAH – Domenico Procacci, Matteo GarronePERSEPOLIS – Marc-Antoine Robert, Xavier Rigault, Marjane Satrapi, Vincent ParonnaudWALTZ WITH BASHIR – Serge Lalou, Gerhard Meixner, Yael Nahlieli, Ari Folman

Commentary: And here I must bow out as I catch up with the nominees. If there’s anything in this list better than Gomorrah, I have some fine viewing ahead.

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ANIMATED FILMWALL•E – Andrew Stanton

Nominees:PERSEPOLIS – Marjane Satrapi, Vincent ParonnaudWALTZ WITH BASHIR – Ari Folman

LEADING ACTORMICKEY ROURKE The Wrestler

Nominees:FRANK LANGELLA – Frost/NixonDEV PATEL– Slumdog MillionaireSEAN PENN– MilkBRAD PITT– The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Commentary: here the competition is far more worthy, as we get down to the performances. The only one shoed-in to this list is Dev Patel, who makes a competent introduction to the big screen in Slumdog Millionaire; however there are legions of other performances from 2008 that deserved a place more than his, and he seems to have slipped in here on a ‘group ticket’. Of the others, including the winner, you might just as well flip a coin. These are seasoned actors at the top of their game.

LEADING ACTRESSKATE WINSLETThe Reader

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Nominees:ANGELINA JOLIE – ChangelingKRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS – I’ve Loved You So LongMERYL STREEP – DoubtKATE WINSLET – Revolutionary Road

Commentary: A well-deserved win for Winslett in a role that required an emotional obtuseness and underplaying that is no easy trick to sustain. Meryl Streep must have been a very serious contender here – her turn as the revenge-seeking and matriarchal nun is her most chilling since The Manchurian Candidate, and it’s housed in a far better film.

SUPPORTING ACTORHEATH LEDGER The Dark Knight

Nominees:ROBERT DOWNEY JR. – Tropic ThunderBRENDAN GLEESON – In BrugesPHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN – DoubtBRAD PITT – Burn After Reading

Commentary: In a way, Ledger has been robbed here, as he would have justly won this award without any emotional side-issues. But we’ll just have to know that in secret. The other candidates are super-strong, though I do wonder if Gleeson should have been demoted to supporting actor for In Bruges, which is mostly a two-hander between himself and Colin Farrell.

SUPPORTING ACTRESSPENÉLOPE CRUZ Vicky Cristina Barcelona

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Nominees:AMY ADAMS – DoubtFRIEDA PINTO – Slumdog MillionaireTILDA SWINTON – Burn After ReadingMARISA TOMEI – The Wrestler

Commentary: I can’t comment, as Woody Allen’s opus is the only one I have yet to catch up on in this list. I personally would have nominated Tilda Swinton more for Benjamin Button than Burn After Reading. If there’s an actress more capable of treading the road between passion and iciness, I can’t think who it might be.

MUSICSLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – A. R. Rahman

Nominees:THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON – Alexandre DesplatTHE DARK KNIGHT – Hans Zimmer, James Newton HowardMAMMA MIA! – Benny Andersson, Björn UlvaeusWALL•E – Thomas Newman

Commentary: As a casual ABBA fan, I can’t quite see how they were beaten in this category. Of the original scores here, Button is the most haunting and memorable.

CINEMATOGRAPHYSLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – Anthony Dod Mantle

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Nominees:CHANGELING – Tom SternTHE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON – Claudio MirandaTHE DARK KNIGHT – Wally PfisterTHE READER – Chris Menges, Roger Deakins

Commentary: Again, Benjamin Button unjustly loses to Millionaire. Fincher’s quirky opus was the cinematographic coup of 2008.

Wall-E scores at the grammies